Food and nutritional security requires adequate protein as well as energy, delivered from whole-year crop production

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Graeme D Coles
  • Stephen D Wratten
  • John Roy Porter

Human food security requires the production of sufficient quantities of both high-quality protein and dietary energy. In a series of case-studies from New Zealand, we show that while production of food ingredients from crops on arable land can meet human dietary energy requirements effectively, requirements for high-quality protein are met more efficiently by animal production from such land. We present a model that can be used to assess dietary energy and quality-corrected protein production from various crop and crop/animal production systems, and demonstrate its utility. We extend our analysis with an accompanying economic analysis of commercially-available, pre-prepared or simply-cooked foods that can be produced from our case-study crop and animal products. We calculate the per-person, per-day cost of both quality-corrected protein and dietary energy as provided in the processed foods. We conclude that mixed dairy/cropping systems provide the greatest quantity of high-quality protein per unit price to the consumer, have the highest food energy production and can support the dietary requirements of the highest number of people, when assessed as all-year-round production systems. Global food and nutritional security will largely be an outcome of national or regional agroeconomies addressing their own food needs. We hope that our model will be used for similar analyses of food production systems in other countries, agroecological zones and economies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2100
JournalPeerJ
Volume4
Number of pages17
ISSN2167-8359
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

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